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Lighting the Fuse

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Nicole Sandler

I'd always nod along when Randi Rhodes would say that it's not if it'll happen, but when. And I, like she, always wondered what the catalyst will be that finally lights the fuse.

Back in 2011, the spark that begat the Arab Spring was one of those proverbial straws breaking the camel's back--  a Tunisian fruit vendor set himself on fire to protest his government's treatment of himself and his fellow citizens along with its brazen corruption.

Before dawn on Friday, Dec. 17, as [Mohammed] Bouazizi pulled his cart along the narrow, rutted stone road toward the market, two police officers blocked his path and tried to take his fruit. Bouazizi’s uncle rushed to help his 26-year-old nephew, persuading the officers to let the rugged-looking young man complete his one-mile trek.

The uncle visited the chief of police and asked him for help. The chief called in a policewoman who had stopped Bouazizi, Fedya Hamdi, and told her to let the boy work.

Hamdi, outraged by the appeal to her boss, returned to the market. She took a basket of Bouazizi’s apples and put it in her car. Then she started loading a second basket. This time, according to Alladin Badri, who worked the next cart over, Bouazizi tried to block the officer.

“She pushed Mohammed and hit him with her baton,” Badri said.

Hamdi reached for Bouazizi’s scale, and again he tried to stop her.

Hamdi and two other officers pushed Bouazizi to the ground and grabbed the scale. Then she slapped Bouazizi in the face in front of about 50 witnesses.

Bouazizi wept with shame.

“Why are you doing this to me?” he cried, according to vendors and customers who were there. “I’m a simple person, and I just want to work.”

... After the slap, Bouazizi went to city hall and demanded to see an official. No, a clerk replied. Go home. Forget about it.

Bouazizi returned to the market and told his fellow vendors he would let the world know how unfairly they were being treated, how corrupt the system was.

He would set himself ablaze.

“We thought he was just talking,” said Hassan Tili, another vendor.

A short while later, the vendors heard shouts from a couple of blocks away. Without another word to anyone, Bouazizi had positioned himself in front of the municipal building, poured paint thinner over his body and lit himself aflame.

He was subjected to continued indignities, as enumerated in the Washington Post article.  For example, as Bouazizi lay dying in the hospital burn unit, Tunisia's dictator,  Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali arrived, camera crew in tow.

The president made a show of handing (his mother) Manoubya a check for 10,000 dinars (about $14,000). But the mother said Ben Ali’s staffers took the check back after the cameramen were escorted from the room. “I never got any of it,” she said.

Three weeks later, Bouazizi died.

In early January, the policewoman was arrested, but it was too late. The story had spread, and three months later, a revolution that sprouted in a small village in Tunisia and flowered in Egypt has morphed into a contagion that threatens regimes in Bahrain and Yemen, has enveloped Libya in civil war, and is unsettling even the region’s more placid monarchies, such as Saudi Arabia and Jordan.

And thus, it began. The flame that Bouazizi used to light himself on fire was the spark that lit the fuse of the powder keg that had slowly heating, though decades of injustice, public humiliation and worse. It finally blew.

Revolutions are explosions of frustration and rage that build over time, sometimes over decades. Although their political roots are deep, it is often a single spark that ignites them — an assassination, perhaps, or one selfless act of defiance.

Of course, the word had to spread. Facebook was the conduit and nothing could stop it. And the rest, as they say, is history.

What will be the spark that mobilizes Americans?

Just before airtime this morning I checked the Nicole Sandler Show Message Board to find a new thread titled, "The Fire Has Been Lit! And It Starts In Ferguson, MO."

An 18-year old young man named Michael Brown was walking down the street with his friend Dorin Johnson, headed for Brown's grandmother's house. According to Johnson, a cop pulled up next to them and said, "Get the F--k on the sidewalk." And that's where the details get sketchy.

The police say that Brown jumped into the police car and fought with the officer over her gun. Witnesses say that Brown ran from the car, only to be hit by a bullet, after which he put his hands up in surrender, only to be shot again in the face and the chest before falling to the ground dead.

Anonymous has taken notice, posting this video online today:

This show of police brutality comes only a week after another black man, Eric Garner, was killed by an overly violent show of police force.

The 43-year-old father of six, who was asthmatic, can be heard saying “I can’t breathe” several times in the footage, and the city’s chief medical examiner confirmed that much on August 1, when he ruled Garner’s death a “homicide by chokehold.”

The militarization of the American police was on global display during the Occupy Wall Street protests which began on Sept 17, 2011, when protesters gathered to occupy a park on, as the name implies, Wall Street.

On November 15, almost a year after Mohammed Bouazizi set himself on fire to protest police and government actions in Tunisia, police in New York City - decked out in full riot gear regalia - descended on Zuccotti Park, which the occupiers had renamed Freedom Plaza, arresting protesters and journalists alike, injuring many in the process.

Just two days later and thousands of miles to the west, a group of students at the University of California/Davis were exercising their constitutional right to peaceably protest by sitting, silently in a row along a sidewalk when a UC Davis cop walked methodically up and down the row, pepper spraying them.

That incident didn't inspire enough nationwide outrage to get Americans out on the streets, nor did the news that said officer, Lt. John Pike, who was

placed on paid administrative leave after the incident and was firedeight months later in July 2012 – although an internal investigation actually found he had acted appropriately.

Appropriately?!?!?!  How about the fact that he was then awarded $38,059 in a workers compensation claim, because

 Pike, 40, had suffered depression and anxiety brought on by death threats to him and his family. The threats followed the 18 November 2011 protest, the newspaper reported.

Or how about Tony Bologna.. you remember him, right? The Manhattan DA declined to press charges, but the cop was docked 10 vacation days or equivalent pay. Plus,

The NYPD officer caught using pepper-spray on two female Occupy Wall Street protesters in September has been transferred to work in Staten Island.

While that might sound like enough torture for some, Bologna is apparently from Staten Island, so the transfer translates into a shorter commute for the 29-year NYPD veteran.

So, what will it take to light the fuse under Americans, to get us to go to our windows and show "I'm as mad as hell and I'm not going to take it any more!"?

I don't know, but I guess it hasn't happened yet...

Today on the show

After talking about the shooting by police death of Michael Brown, it was time to talk about our broken political system.

Howie Klein who blogs at Down with Tyranny and, along with Digby and John Amato, runs the Blue America PAC, joins me every Monday morning for The Steve Israel Hour, sponsored by Little Debbie.  

It was an ugly weekend primary in Hawaii, where the "Republican wing of the Democratic party" had a good night. Governor Neil Abercrombie, the progressive sitting governor was defeated decimated by centrist David Ige.

On the good news side, Howie announced that Blue America formally endorsed Zephyr Teachout in her bid to unseat New York's ethically-challenged Andrew Cuomo. They've even set up a special Gubernatorial donation page here. 

And finally, if you're a regular listener of my show, you know that I think many of our problems are caused by the corporate control of our media. That's one of the reasons I'm such a big fan of The Nation magazine. They're truly independent with no corporate overlords or influence.

I was thrilled to welcome Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor and publisher of The Nation, to the show this morning to talk about the situation in Ukraine - and the fact that it's nothing like what you're hearing from the TV so-called "news" programs.

Katrina and her husband, Stephen F. Cohen, set the record straight using history and facts about what's really going on over there in, "Why is Washington Risking War with Russia?", a must-read if you want to know the truth. And for some more background, check out Cohen's "The Silence of American Hawks about Kiev's Atrocities."

It was a great discussion that ventured into much more, and fascinating reading from very smart people whose goal is to report the truth. What a concept!

Tomorrow, the return of the Gliberal Goddesses and whatever else the day brings... radio or not!

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100 Years Ago This Summer, the Great War Began - Has Putin Taken Us Back?

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obamaputin

Noted historian Jon Meacham proposed just that, going even further to speculate that we are once again, as a country, purportedly Leaders of the Free World now, re-engaged in The Big Game.

And Putin never looked happier.

No progressive wants to hear this. It's an arguable victory for the hopeful Military Industrial Complex fiends, never mind a clear throwback to Ron Ron Reagan's Star Wars daze.

steve-King-Of-Kings-210x300

Maddow, per usual, had a revelatory conversation with Nina Kruscheva about the Regressive Right and Putin headlines.

However, Putin isn't making it easy to try to have a different viewpoint from Fvx Nation and give the guy a slim chance. No progressive wants to be on the same side of the soapbox as Limpbaugh, Hannity and Coulter, either.

And lawd knows that soon we will all have another stellar new media site to muddy up with lots of liberal traffic … La Palin is launched … an Online News Channel.

Of her own.

Like Op-rah.

But more like the Anti-Oprah.

 

Have a gander at Here Ya' Go GOP-Tea … Pay For Palin

Putin

Can we blame Putin for that too? I don't know why not, they have so much in common and she can practically see him undressing from her vaunted A-las-kan porch. And you know as the General Election gets closer, the Regressive Right wants Putin to be as scary a foe as possible … the GOP think they win every security and defense contest.

From Ronan Farrow's messnbc daily roster.

Let's prove the fools wrong. Can you imagine Ted Cruz making foreign policy decisions with Putin also a president he has to interact with?

Dr. Seuss ain't going to cover those situations, Cruz. Or *GASP* Palin herself, there are already PAC's and this channel is nothing but publicity.

mr.tweetumsputin

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Live: President Obama on the Situation in Ukraine

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Obama Ukraine

President Obama Delivers a Statement on the Situation in Ukraine

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Overnight: How Do You Solve a Problem Like Putin? Lauren Mayer

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Putin

image: http://www.vinkaarhus.com


Lauren Mayer is a singer/songwriter/pianist who writes comedy songs about everything from Supreme Court decisions to the Kardashians. She proudly supports leftist causes including equal pay, reproductive choice, fair minimum wage, addressing climate change, and marriage equality.
Note: Lauren's CD is now available!! Hear clips or purchase CD/downloads at http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/laurenmayer8. It is also on iTunes and will soon be on Amazon!

Ronan Farrow on Sunday morning: 'How do you solve a problem like Putin?' Yes, out loud, and caught by TPC writer Hardybear!

Our wonderful friend Lauren Mayer ('Psychomom') then turned 'How do you solve a problem like Putin?' into the wonderful satirical song it was destined to be. Thanks, Lauren!

From YouTube:

The despotic, shirtless tyrant is more unpredictable than a musical theatre character!

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Phuque Feck, Abby Huntsman et al Conservative Bimbette Pundits

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Owlw275h202

I have had it up to here with Feck, so excuse my language.

Her little schtick ought to be called 'Abby's Road To Nowhere', and did we learn nothing from The View about shiny-eyed, shiny-haired young conserva-babes? Surprisingly lifelike but not going to bring anything new to the table?

Hannity and Limbaugh have already 'been in', so to speak.

She might as well call the president gay. It would almost be a relief if dis-compassionate conservatives of Abby Huntsman's calibre just showed the entire spectrum of their Winger Delusions in week one. Be straight up.

Specious smile … Hi. Isn't it a lovely summer day? I'm Sally Lynn, and I'm a Tea Party Era Republican who will snidely condemn every damn thing that abhorrent black man does, whatever it is, until said impertinent man drags his free stuff out of the White House and white people get back to running things.

fox4

We knew it was going to be offensive, Abby was perfection, etiquette wise, and politely warned us early on that a rant about a lack of leadership (in the West Wing, allegedly, not on the 3 PM EST hour of messnbc daytime when the younguns' have at it) was our 3:28 minutes of punishment at the end of the hour.

And not to be catty, but that dress? She is aware that True Blood wrapped already? Ted Cruz had a once in a lifetime shot there, but he got that cameo-Get. Maybe Scandal has something in the conservative cable news pundit slash spokes-bimbette category for next year.

And not to be anti-Mormon, but isn't Abby one of the tribe of Utah extreme 'religionists' [Lucian's splendid term which I poached but need to cite] who truly believe that Jerusalem has to be safely, securely, strongly in em … Judeo-Christian possession … by Armageddon and Rapture? Huntsman was moderate in some social and scientific senses, but Dude still sported the undergarments.

And to be snide, but does Israel even want this Feck obsessed chick defending them? Maybe over Hasselbeck, that you could see.

worldisending

So Miss Huntsman's underlying nerves and anxiety have less to do with a need for President Obama to look like he has Feck to spare and could ride a bear and is a capital L Leader of the free world … but more with thinking, nay believing deeply, let's not be judgmental, that her immortal soul and future in the hereafter weren't intertwined with what's going on in Tel Aviv?

It's been an entire week of conservative whiney women bitching about the president's lack of Feck, and frankly we've had enough. Phuque Feck, what Feck seems to conflate to over ta' Fvx Nation and all of that Reaganesque Marlboro Man bullshite … these neo-con women need to stick a pin in it.

havalaugh

La Palin first, all she's done for seven years is squawk about President Obama being a wuss in equitable times, she'll ultimately allegorically implode soon in a very True Blood sort of 'last life', writhing morass of idiocy and evil intent, with some moose entrails and a tacky lipstick shade thrown in.

And steaming piles of Feck.

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The Importance of Being Earnest, and Honestly, a Little Feisty

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pliviapope

It's rather refreshing to have a Press Secretary at the podium who has a bit of vinegar in his delivery. That touch of acid we all crave.

Meet relative newcomer, and at what a quiet time in world affairs, new 1600 Pennsylvania Main Face: Josh Earnest. Flippant Oscar Wilde tie-ins aside, it truly is a dramatic turn of events. Domestically. In a good way.

Now you're listening.

AttaBoy

The West Wing personnel department might had been catching up on Scandal and went "Man, we have to really up our game around the real deal," or just relaxed a bit as it eases on to the final, two year stretch.

It will certainly be more interesting, and we all want interesting. Less Tea Party, more interesting.

Within the #OhButWeKid category of media-watching perspective is also no small amount of awe that the Obama team let a bit of a bulldog out to man a pretty public desk. A Press Secretary with teeth, topics get fleshed out when the pearly whites are flashing … always a plus for discussion.

In any case, it makes for fine embed video. This bit courtesy of Morning Joe Schmoe, and so you also get the Full Pith of the Panel. 'pologies.

You can tell by the sub-titles these days how the production team is going after the differing viewership over the course of their day. "Caught?" The actual Question and Answer are transcribed below.

Q: One other question on a different subject. The Washington Post report this weekend about the information available to the administration about the border and expectations of a surge at the border. Can you comment on whether the administration was advised, and then overlooked or disregarded the information that was available to DHS and the White House?

MR. EARNEST: Well, Alexis, I’d first point out that you’re asking about a story that’s based entirely on anonymous sources. So that should be reflected in the record. The second is, if you do take a look at what this administration’s response has been not just in the last couple of months, but over the last few years, you’ve seen that this administration has repeatedly sought additional resources to deal with this specific problem at the border. That if you look at the trajectory of the budget from Fiscal Year 2011 to the 2012 to 2013 to 2014, that there has been a steady increase in the amount of resources requested to deal with this precise problem. That is a pretty good indication that this is something that we’ve been watching carefully and preparing for.

What also happens to be true is that there are a number of steps that were taken by this administration in the months before, or at least in the weeks before this became the media sensation that it has been over the last several weeks, that there were repeated visits by the Secretary of Homeland Security to the border and to facilities that were used and have been used to detain unaccompanied minors.

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There were steps taken by the President to direct the FEMA Administrator to coordinate the activities of DHS and the Department of Defense, and Health and Human Services, to coordinate the response for detaining these children and these families in a humanitarian way.

So this is something that the administration has been focused on for quite some time. And we have seen, as I mentioned at the top of the briefing, the tide at least start to turn over the last couple of weeks. But we’re not going to turn our attention away from that; in fact, the President is having a meeting on this today, because he believes that this is the kind of significant problem that merits sustained attention.

Everyone's an editorialist.

NOWAY

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Two Wrongs Don't Make a Right

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SULOME ANDERSON
'He calls me neshama, I call him habibi. Love doesn't speak the language of occupation #JewsAndArabsRefuseToBeEnemies,'
Sulome Anderson tweeted.

If only the so-called leaders could be taken out of the equation, the people of the world might actually have a shot at world peace!

But only a shot because there are still citizens throughout the world who insist on placing all of the blame for this mess on one side or the other. As an American atheist of Jewish descent, I still consider myself a Jew - with all the history to comes with that heritage.

I have family members who escaped the concentration camps. That history doesn't go away because the powers that be in Israel seem to have forgotten their persecution. I sympathize with the Palestinian people who have no homeland and live in the open-air prison that is Gaza.

I can see both sides of the story, and know that both sides are right in some respects and wrong in many others.

But when a long-time listener and supporter of this program writes in the chat room "All Jews in Israel are Nazis," we have an even bigger problem than I realized. (Said listener left the chat room in a huff and canceled his monthly donation to the show. If you'd like to make up for the shortfall, your support is needed.)

Thank goodness I was able to read a sensible take on the situation with a sensible solution over at Slate: William Saletan's "How To Save Gaza and Keep Israel and Hamas from Fighting the Next War." I already emailed and invited him on the show tomorrow. I hope he accepts.

And thank goodness for the people who started the #JewsAndArabsRefuseToBeEnemies campaign.

Let me add myself and Keith Ellison to the mix who did the Jew/Muslim fist bump at Netroots Nation and shared a hug too!

Today on the show, Susie Madrak of Crooks & Liars joined in to show that even like-minded people can disagree, and do with without being assholes.

And Mario Piscatella, managing editor of Blue Nation Review, guested to tell us about that great new news website, the assault on premium subsidies in the Affordable Care Act by two Republican judges and more.. until a Florida lightning strike nearby knocked me off the air.

So, we'll be back tomorrow with another show... Amy Simon on Seneca Falls, Stephen Goldstein with another "No More Bullshit Minute" and whatever else the day throws our way... radio or not!

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